Take a break…. for better productivity

June 10, 2015

A poll of 3,000 workers found that 28% were worried that taking time off would make them a target for redundancy by making them look less committed than their counterparts. Other concerns cited were that, “work simply backs up while you’re away so what’s the point in having a break”, “having two weeks off means if I won’t meet my targets and deadlines in that month so will probably be fired” or “in our company the amount of time off you’ve had is part of the redundancy criteria”.

In relation to that last one, it would be remiss of us not to point out that this is illegal, but employees often get confused by absence (which includes sick or emergency leave) and is a valid redundancy criteria with taking annual leave. Again in the current climate, many families do not have the cash to take a holiday what with the rising cost of living and the uncertainty around the economic outlook, therefore, they simply haven’t been able to afford the hundreds of pounds on a summer holiday.

Why do we need holiday?
When an SME is in the thick of delivery there are times when we all wish people weren’t going to be on holiday. Unfortunately, this is a short term view that actually has the potential to damage your businesses, your employee productivity and your working relationships. If any of your employees are worried about taking time off, they have potentially perceived that taking annual leave is bad so it’s important to put them straight – here’s what you could say:

Holiday is essential to rejuvenate and switch off – of the 3,000 strong poll almost 90% think going on holiday is actually the perfect way of reducing work-related stress. Studies have shown that people are more likely to get sick if they don’t take enough time off work.
People work better after a break and this is also backed up by the poll – 81% think they are more productive once they have had some time off. When you come back from a holiday your batteries are recharged and you’re more likely to be ready to get stuck into the work again.
It’s something to look forward to; just over three-quarters (78%) of workers admitted they like to have a trip booked so they have something to aim for in the coming months.
If people don’t book holiday early on in the year they can assume that they can take it all in bulk towards the end of the year. Unfortunately, this is very difficult for us to manage because the business may need them, the calendar could be booked up with others wanting to take leave and it’s not ideal for someone to be away from work for a 3/4 week period.

What can you do to encourage people to take their leave?
Communicate, ensure employees are clear when the holiday year starts and ends, what their entitlement is and what the rules are for booking holiday. Also ensure they know what will happen if they don’t take their leave i.e. they lose it or can carry some over.
Encourage people to book their leave early to avoid disappointment.
Remind employees throughout the year of the entitlement they still have to take – don’t leave it until the last minute!
Promote the taking of holiday – explain the benefits and demonstrate that taking holidays doesn’t show weakness – quite the opposite.
Consider the reasons why people aren’t taking their leave – if it’s due to lack of resource or the individual is too busy work with them to identify what you can do to help.
Allowing the carryover of holiday.

Some companies do allow employees to carry over some of their untaken leave. Please be cautious if you allow this – you must take the statutory holiday entitlement into account.

As the law stipulates – 20 days plus bank holiday is the statutory holiday entitlement. This is considered to be the minimum amount of leave which any full time employee should take. This isn’t up for debate, therefore no amount can be carried over into the next year. The individual either takes all 20 days (plus Bank Holidays) or they lose it but should definitely be encouraged to take it.

If, as a company, you offer in excess of the statutory amount and have a policy whereby you allow carryover of untaken leave, it is the holiday in addition to the statutory amount which may be carried over. Most companies though tend to limit this to 5 days which can be carried over, otherwise the employee over one or two years can end up with over 8 weeks in one year to take as annual leave. Carrying over holidays isn’t always the best option because you’re just making it more difficult to fit in all holidays the year after!

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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